First Reading: Acts 16:1-10
And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Ico’nium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily. And they went through the region of Phry’gia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come opposite My’sia, they attempted to go into Bithyn’ia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by My’sia, they went down to Tro’as. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedo’nia was standing beseeching him and saying, “Come over to Macedo’nia and help us.” And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedo’nia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 100:1-3, 5
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Gospel: John 15:18-21
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.
It can be so hard for us to understand God’s will at times. Like Saint Paul in today’s First Reading, we may see any number of options that are an objectively good direction for our lives, and yet find that the Spirit keeps closing the doors and answering, “No,” “Not yet,” “Not there,” or “Wait.” We can have a vision for our lives that seems so reasonable, seems such a good way to live in service to God, and find ourselves stymied every time we try to pursue it. And it can be difficult to reconcile ourselves to God’s will in those moments.
But Saints Paul and Timothy exemplify for us in Acts what Jesus teaches in the Gospel today. Our task is not to understand the will of God, but to obey it. If Jesus, who was God himself, and thus fully understood the mind of the Father, could submit himself to God’s will for Him even when it meant being persecuted, humiliated, and suffering at the hands of human beings whom He created, who are we not to do the same?
We are but servants of the master and we serve him best not by coming up the best plan or the most inspiring vision for our lives, but in our humble obedience to His will.
Sometimes that obedience will mean we don’t walk through a door we wish we could, and other times it will mean we walk onto choppy waters with the faith that he will sustain us. And sometimes it will mean that we suffer persecution for obeying rather than pursuing our own way. But obedience is the path our Jesus took, it is the way of those who follow Him, and it is the way to eternal life. We have been chosen “out of this world” by a God who knows our deepest needs. Let us set aside our own wills to follow Him at all costs.
Take some time today to meditate on the closed doors in your life that you wish God would open. Pray for the grace to be obedient to His will even when you do not understand it.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five amazing sons here on earth. They serve in Costa Rica where they run the St. Francis Emmaus Center, a ministry that welcomes indigenous mothers into their home to provide them access to medical care, support and education in the weeks before and after the birth of a child. Find out more about her here.